Monday, Feb. 09, 2004

Gucci Westman

Believe it or not, it was a makeunder — not a makeover — that put Gucci Westman on the imagemaking map and got her the lofty position of favorite makeup artist of celebrities like Cameron Diaz and Julianne Moore. As the makeup artist for Being John Malkovich, Westman turned the stunning Diaz into the homely Lotte.

Westman's route to the movie business started in Paris, where she worked as an au pair for the family of a beauty/fashion writer. The boxes of samples sent to the home, she says, "got me involved in playing around with makeup." After attending a makeup school in Paris, she ended up in Los Angeles doing special-effects makeup. Her first big break came when photographer Annie Leibovitz needed bikers covered in mud for a 1996 Vanity Fair cover.

"I did all this research and learned about mud in the Middle East, mud in the South and the different shades," Westman says. One thing led to another, and soon she was doing covers for Harper's Bazaar and Vogue. The 33-year-old achieved another lofty goal when she was appointed artistic director for Lancôme, where she will create new products and palettes. She attributes her success to her ability to make people look as if they authentically belong in a place or situation. A talent that comes in handy, no doubt, when she's touching up Diaz and Moore for the red carpet.